5 unnecessary auto styling trends
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Fake Fender Vents
Fender bling is nothing new. Buick introduced Ventiports, portholes atop the front fenders, in 1948, and for a time they were even functional. But the current fender-faker trend traces back to 1996 with the BMW Z3's nonfunctional-but-convincing gills. Import tuners flocked to the look, and OEMs weren't far behind. Now, designers can't stop slapping vents on fenders, none of which seem to offer any actual ventilation. Why do new cars need all this imaginary airflow?
Aside from a few daring designs, automatic shifters haven't outwardly changed much in the past two decades. But while the shifter in Aunt Desiree's Chevy Beretta is mechanically connected to the transmission, your new car's lever might only "shift" electrons in a computer module. This opens up a world of new gear-selector layouts, such as the buttons, rotary knobs, or joysticks some marques currently employ. It also makes the old console stick seem like a pointless charade—especially when it's weighted or ratcheted to feel mechanical. We prefer extra console space and tidy design over lever nostalgia and make-believe. Although a manual transmission trumps them all.
Big Teeth, Tiny Mouth
Oversized grilles came into car design out of necessity; muscle cars like the 1970